Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Fleasel engine

A two stroke diesel engine using fleas as the working fluid and fueled on sugar
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I hypothesise that jumping fleas will act very much like gas molecules. This assumes that they will jump into things repeatedly.

Take a large diesel engine and remove the valves (and the holes that they were stopping up too - there is no inlet or exhaust involved, except of gasses to keep the cylinder at constant pressure). Put lots of fleas into the cylinder and bolt the cylinder head on. Don't forget to reconnect the fuel injector.

The cycle works as follows, starting at bottom dead centre:

The piston moves up from BDC, excess gas is vented around the base of the cylinder head. At TDC, there is only just enough room to fit all the fleas in the cylinder, and at this point, a fine mist of sugar solution with caffeine* is injected. The fleas will start to jump, and thus produce a downward force on the piston, just as gas molecules do in an engine where a traditional gas is the working fluid, and this will turn the engine to the bottom again. Gas is re-admitted to keep the cylinder at a constant pressure. A high concentration of oxygen might increase the engine's power and speed. A very large flywheel is used to move back up to TDC as this will, presumably, be quite a slow engine.

*I couldn't find any information about the effect of caffeine on fleas, however there is plenty to say that it increases the heart rate of water fleas (daphnia). A pheromone can be mixed in if caffeine alone is not enough to start them jumping.

TomP, Nov 08 2012

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       Make sure you keep the fleas from being pushed out of the exhaust.   

       I really have nothing more to improve this perfect idea.
RayfordSteele, Nov 08 2012

       The problem is that the fleas are not offered any sustenance. This would work best as a Segway type device which enveloped your own unclad lower body. This would allow the fleas to dine and replete their own energy. Uncomfortable wriggling by you would motivate them to jump away temporarily but then jump back, providing the motive force you describe. To replete your own energy there would be onboard supplies of Irn-Bru and oyster jerky.
bungston, Nov 08 2012

       The jumping is not securely enough connected to the drivetrain, there owuld be a lot of wasted energy. Better I would think to harness each flea and attach pedals to its feet.
pocmloc, Nov 08 2012

       As a diesel engine is it a funny although impractical idea. It would be interesting to try to make such an engine out of cardboard or similarly light materials.
rcarty, Nov 08 2012

       [bungston]: That was why the injector sprays a sugar solution. Blood will do as well, but I wanted it to be totally absorbed by the fleas to minimise clogging from their individual exhausts.
TomP, Nov 08 2012


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